Quality over quantity is the motto at Ascot on Friday, with just six races on the card.
It’s a classy six, mind you, featuring the Listed Noel Murless Stakes – which I’m hoping will be won by William Haggas to land a quickfire double.
15:22 – Florida @ 11/4
The first leg of the aforementioned double is Florida for this Class 3 contest over the straight mile.
The three-year-old son of No Nay Never, who was highly-progressive as a juvenile, was tried in a warm handicap at Haydock on his seasonal reappearance back in May, off an opening mark of 85. That didn’t go to plan as he was extremely keen and well-beaten in the end.
Subsequently gelded and given plenty of time off, he was a much-improved third, beaten just a length, in a Kempton handicap in August – and then last time out he landed a 0-95 affair at York that’s got a real strong look to it.
I suspect he’s got a lot more to give and, getting weight from some out-of-form older rivals, can make a bold bid here.
15:57 – Naqeeb @ 2/1
Then, just over half-an-hour later, it’s the feature – the Listed Noel Murless Stakes.
This looks a warm renewal. Chesspiece and Middle Earth contested the Betfred St Leger last month, while the superbly-bred Naqeeb, now rated 104, won a Haydock handicap off four pounds lower the week before.
It’s the latter who gets my vote here. Not only because of his credentials, but also doubts surrounding his five rivals.
The three-year-old son of Nathaniel, who’s a half-brother to both Baaeed and Hukum no less, certainly has the ability to succeed at this level. In fact, he’s almost certainly a Group horse.
His triumph the last day, carrying so much weight, was seriously impressive, suggesting he’s improved past Middle Earth who narrowly beat him at Newmarket earlier in the season.
Gosden’s colt also has to overcome what was a gruelling race at Doncaster – as does Chesspiece, who’s also a doubt on what’s fairly quick ground.
I’d be surprised if the other three were up to winning this, so I make Naqeeb a confident selection.